Approximately one and a half million other pilgrims- myself included!– were asked to consider these words during our pilgrimage. Translated to “everyone, everyone, everyone” in English, these three words hold tremendous significance not only in relation to my experience at World Youth Day but also to the missionary vocation to which we’re all called as members of the Church.
I traveled to World Youth Day to educate young pilgrims about the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies in over one thousand mission territories worldwide and their own baptismal call to be missionaries, bringing Christ to every corner of the globe. As a first-time attendee of the event, it was a beautiful sight witnessing the universality of the Church and recognizing that we were all joined together in prayer for the Church and each other.
The crowds of young people flooding the streets of Lisbon stand as a testament to the bright future of our Church and its capability to stay true to its values while embracing everyone eager to experience Christ’s love. I met pilgrims of every age from every continent, brimming with passion for their faith. I found myself praying alongside individuals I had only known for a fleeting moment and who didn’t speak my language. Yet, we were united by our universal family, the Church, which transcends both time and space—todos.
Pope Francis’ words resonate not only with the experience of World Youth Day but also with the role of Catholics as missionaries. “Todos, todos, todos.” Each one of us is named and called by God to know and love Him—todos. This calling is a testament to God’s love for every single one of us—todos. Since we are cherished by God, we are driven to share the truth of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection with all nations—todos. This missionary call propels us to learn and express our faith daily, guiding others in our orbit to do likewise. Moreover, we empower others to discover and embody their faith in mission territories, especially where the Church’s presence is minimal or financially constrained. Sharing God’s love introduces them to His essence, and through your prayers and contributions, you endow those in the Missions with an opportunity to recognize the Church as their spiritual sanctuary. You help disseminate the joy of missionary zeal.
Being in Lisbon with the Holy Father and over a million devout Catholics was thrilling and humbling, seeing the fervor with which so many embrace their missionary call. As Pope Francis expressed, “la alegria es misionera” or “joy is missionary.” Sharing Christ infuses joy into the world and our lives. God’s love, Pope Francis imparted, is “the starting point of World Youth Day, but above all, the starting point of our lives. We are loved as we are, unadorned. Do you grasp that? And each one of us is beckoned by name.”
May every single one of us- not only those who participated in this youth festival, remember that God calls each of us by name. And we are asked to do our best so that everyone knows this truth, especially those who have never heard of Christ’s redeeming love.
* The author is the Development and Stewardship Coordinator of The Pontifical Mission Societies USA.